WOODS CROSS, Utah. – An officer in Utah is facing backlash from his community after he reportedly mistook a young boy for a fleeing suspect and drew his gun on him.
According to a report from CBS News, Utah police were in pursuit of armed suspects from a call about a shooting when an unidentified officer came upon 10-year-old DJ Hrubes playing on his grandmother’s front lawn. The officers had been given mixed descriptions of the suspects that they were pursuing, with conflicting reports that they were black, Hispanic, or Polynesian, Woods Cross Police Chief Chad Soffe said.
The officer accidentally mistook Hrubes for a potential suspect, and drew his gun and pointed it at the boy. Jerri Hrubes, the child’s mother, said that the officer was yelling at DJ to put his hands in the air, get down on the ground and not to ask any questions. When Jerri approached the officer to tell him that he had the wrong person at gunpoint, the officer then reportedly holstered his weapon and got in his car and left.
The officer came back to the Hrubes house later in the day and offered a formal apology for the mix-up.
But that’s not good enough, says the family’s lawyer.
“If it’s true that the justification to point a gun at this child is because they were told the suspects might be black, Hispanic or Polynesian, are they saying this officer was entitled to stop and point his gun at every male fitting that description?” said Kara Porter, an attorney for the Hrubes family.
The department is conducting an internal review of the officer’s actions, but it doesn’t seem likely that they will face any major discipline, as no shots were fired and no injuries were reported.
Hrubes appreciated the apology but claims to not feel safe in her home after the incident. She doesn’t want the officer to be fired, but she thinks an outside review needs to be performed. She also noted that her son faces some issues with sight and is mentally delayed.
Soffe defended his officer, but said that they can use the mistaken identity as a learning experience.
“Our policy does not require an investigation when an officer draws but does not discharge his firearm. But we want to learn from this,” Soffe said in a statement. “To be totally transparent and to alleviate some of the concerns that have been brought up, we are going to ask the Davis County Attorney’s office to provide an independent review.”
Black Lives Matter – Utah is demanding that the officer be terminated. Their leadership said that protests will take place outside the department until something is done.
“The fact that this police officer still has a job, and they’ve defended his actions, sends a message that any officer can go out, aim a gun at a 10-year-old kid, and that’s OK. And that’s not OK to do,” said Lex Scott, founder of BLM – Utah.
Police Chief Soffe from Woods Cross apologizes to DJ Hrubes and his family after an officer pointed gun at 10 yr old DJ pic.twitter.com/juZVo2JJPC
— cristina flores (@Cristina2News) June 10, 2019
The unidentified officer is still employed with the agency and authorities are not looking to terminate him, Soffe noted.
“Our policy does not require an investigation when an officer draws but does not discharge his firearm. But we want to learn from this.”